Almost everybody in the world likes animals. Some people keep animals at home as pets, other people go to see them and pet them at the zoo, and some people even go to school and work with animals. Turtles can make good pets, lions you can see at the zoo, but only dogs also sometimes work with, take care of, and help the humans they live with. There are a lot of different kinds of dogs, big ones small ones, dogs with long, soft hair, dogs with short, rough hair. Some dogs were even (bred and) trained to help people do their jobs.
In fact, the people who drive those big red fire trucks you probably love (I'll leave it to you to decide whether to call them firemen or firepeople or firemen and firewomen) have a dog called a Dalmatian, which has short white hair with black spots, riding in the truck with them (to help them save people from burning buildings). All sorts of dogs sometimes do very brave things and help their human friends be safe and avoid ouchies. Keep reading to learn all about them.
(Author's Note: It's a dangerous and scary world these days, so kids and adults alike could use some good news. In this spirit, this collection of warm fuzzy stories about warm fuzzy heroes was written in a style reminiscent of early learning books or primers and is therefore mostly appropriate and "edutaining" for all readers. Feel free to read this to your kids, nephews, godchildren, and prepare them to learn more than they will ever need or want to know about the different breeds of domesticated canine, the various jobs we employ them to do, and acts of heroism they have perpetrated.)
20 Rocky The Police Dog
Rocky is a dog that works with the police to help keep people safe (and is one of the few upstanding law enforcement agents to pass away in the past decade as a hero and due to natural causes). He was a big, strong and brave dog, with short black hair. Rocky belonged to a family of dogs called Dutch shepherds; the first Dutch shepherds were born hundreds of years ago in a place that you can only get to by flying in an airplane. Have you ever been on airplane? German shepherds used to help farmers keep their other animals safe and now are kept as pets to help good guys fight bad guys. Rocky is famous for stopping a bad guy (in August, 2002) who was trying to take something that was not his, even after Rocky hurt his paw (i.e., a burglar shot Rocky in the leg).
19 Trakr The 'Digger' Dog
Trakr is also a police dog and a shepherd dog like Rocky. He has longer hair though, and some spots on his body are not covered in black hair like Rocky. Can you tell where on Trakr and what color these other patches of hair are? Trakr is famous because he spent hours digging and helping people out from underneath a pair of buildings that had fallen down (in September, 2001) on them. Trakr used his paws to dig 30 feet down under the ground to find the last living person left behind; that means he dug the length of about six grandpas (insert your family's pet name for 'gramps' here) standing on top of each other.
18 Kaze Saves The Day
Dogs have a sense of smell that is better than people's; they can smell things from further away than you or I can, which is why they are always already in the kitchen when it's time to eat. Some dogs help policemen find people that have gotten lost and can't find their way home. Kaze (pronounced: ká-zé) is a black Labrador retriever, which means he has a black coat of hair and he was trained to retrieve or bring things back to people. Kaze is a hero because he helped police officers find a missing girl who had fallen off of a bridge and fallen asleep; he used his nose to find her and Kaze's owners were able to get the girl to a hospital just in time to wake her up.
17 Eve, The Butcher Dog Redeemed
Eve is a lady dog; lady dogs are sometimes (just) called... dogs (this is a kid-friendly article, get your mind out of the gutter). She comes from a family of dogs called Rottweilers that were (bred and) trained to help farmers and butchers protect their cows and their pigs and their chickens, and also to help take these animals to market where people called butchers sell their animals (your younglings do not need to know that these animals are dead and have been chopped into sellable bits before being "taken to market"). Eve is a hero because she pulled her (paraplegic) mommy to a place where the ambulance could pick her up after the truck they were driving crashed (and before the truck exploded).
16 Honey: Natural Born Hero
Our next hero is named Honey and she is obviously just as sweet as the honey (or that agave-based syrup your neo-hippy, millennial) mom or dad put on her your healthy, complete breakfast. Honey is from a part of a family of dogs called Cocker Spaniels, who were trained centuries ago in a country called England to help people who like finding (and usually killing) and watching animals like birds go find them. Hunters and bird watchers go to places where animals are hiding and send in dogs like Honey to talk these animals into coming out and letting us play with them. Honey was honored at 5 months old for saving (i.e., getting help for) her owner who had flipped his truck.
15 Zoey: Chihuahua's Revenge
Zoey is from a family of small dogs that even the Kings of ancient America (like the Mayans who used to live where your nanny is from) might have kept as pets. They have always only been bred to be furry companions so it was especially special when five-pound Zoey fended off a snake (from attacking an infant) in the Colorado desert in 2007, even sustaining a snake bite. The ancient American people came up with a fun name for dogs like Zoey: They call these tiny dogs Chihuahuas (Chee-wah-wahs if your tyke is old enough to read along). Do you think Zoey looks like a Chee-wah-wah? Can you come up with a sillier name?
14 Roselle, A Canine Hero At Ground Zero
Roselle is a yellow Labrador, which, alongside the Golden Retriever, is a happy, friendly kind of dog that (used to mostly help hunters retrieve their prey but now) is often owned by people who need extra help in life. Roselle's human friend, Michael Hinson, was blind, which means he had trouble using his eyes to see things, and Roselle's job was to help Michael get where he needed to go without bumping into things. Michael used to work in the same buildings that Trakr the German Shepherd had to dig under to be a hero and Roselle helped lead him and 30 others down almost 1,500 "stairs" before the buildings fell.
13 Little Joe Of The New Jersey 'Yorkies'
Little Joe is not really so little at all. He is average size for his breed and has a hero-sized heart. Little Joe and other dogs like him are called Yorkshire terriers or, "Yorkies" for short, and they usually are kept as pets, as friends or companions, or as show dogs. Show dogs perform for a living, sometimes they compete in beauty pageants and play sports, and sometimes they act in movies and TV commercials (two things, TV and commercials, you kiddies might not even be familiar with thanks to you parents' best friend, DVR). Little Joe was definitely not trained to fend off a 100-pound black bear that had wandered onto owner Deborah Epstein's New Jersey property in Summer, 2003.
12 Shana The She-Wolf
Wolves are wild dogs that nobody keeps as pets and that live outside of cities and away from people because they can be dangerous and mean. The very first dog a person ever kept as a pet or that ever became friends with a person (i.e., domesticated dog) was a baby wolf (or technically a wolf's baby). This German Shepherd-wolf mix amazed upstate New York firefighters who arrived at Eve and Norman Fertig's home to find their Shana had dug a 20 ft. tunnel from the couple's home to where they had been trapped outside in a snowstorm by fallen trees and had dragged the elderly Fertigs back to the warmth of their house, sustaining serious injury to her paws in the process.
11 Toby Parkhurst: EMT, Hero, Dog
Toby is another golden retriever who saved the day (back in 2007) by jumping onto Calvert, MD resident and owner Debbie Parkhurst's chest to dislodge the food she was choking on when Toby noticed Parkhurst was having trouble doing so on her own. Not only is this type of dog often owned by people who need a little extra help, but Golden Retrievers are also taken to hospitals and places where people who are sick or sad live because they are so nice and warm and fuzzy, they make sick and sad people feel better (and make your ungrateful parents feel slightly better about leaving gram-grams in homes where orderlies bet on when she's going to kick the bucket).
10 Dayko Yellow Seven
The most heroic canines, a fancy (dead-language) word for doggies, unfortunately are now in doggy heaven, where All Dogs Go To... (I hope you parents are doing your due diligence and teaching your kids this life lesson). Many dogs have given their lives saving ours, but to keep things upbeat, Dayko is the only example on the list as his story of heroism is one of the few that does not involve intentional violence against or injury of animals. Dayko is another yellow Labrador who saved people from crumbling rubble, seven Ecuadorians from the jaws of an earthquake to be specific. Sadly, he died of exhaustion shortly thereafter.
9 Max's Choice
Max is another German Shepherd, a breed of dogs, again, used often by humans for their vicious attack instinct, who saved his master. Despite Max' heroism, octogenarian owner, Jack Farrel, first described this act of heroism to 911 operators as an animal attack. To save his unconscious and unresponsive owner from death by carbon monoxide inhalation, Max had to make the difficult executive decision to use his clamp-like jaws and carnivorous teeth to drag California resident Farrel, by his arm away from the source of poisonous gas, at which point Jack woke up to find his dog's fangs buried in his forearm.
8 Maya The Pitbull
Maya belongs to a special breed of dogs called pitbulls that are strong, good fighters, and are usually raised to be brave enough to hold their own against bigger animals, like bulls, for example. Bulls are boy cows that are also sometimes trained to fight. These days, grown-ups keep pitbulls as pets not only because they are good fighters and can protect their human friends, but because they are loyal friends, too. Despite her size, muscular Maya was able to save her mommy, Angela, from a bad man who tried to hurt her. For her heroism, the Animal Miracle Foundation named this miraculous mutt 2008's Dog of the Year.
7 Norman The Lifeguard Dog
Norman is yet another yellow Labrador Retriever who retrieved a struggling human from the clutches of certain injury or death. This "yellow lab" however, was not only untrained as a seeing-eye dog, Norman himself was blind. Norman and his mom (owner Annette McDonald) were taking a stroll along the Oregonion shore when Norman heard the cries of 15-year old Lisa Nibley, who had been worn out in her struggle with the undertow, and sprung into action, swimming out to Nibley then letting her grab onto his tail as he swam to shore. To clarify, for the adult children reading, Oregonions are people who have mastered time travel and live ten years prior to the rest of the United States, a 15-year old girl is one of the few things that inspires parental discussions of postpartum abortion.
6 Miley The Canine Smoke Detector
Early morning, dead of winter, future-Pitts' family homestead, Van Buren, Arkansas: Miley, the beloved family pet, a Border Collie from Australia, was particularly restless and would not stop waking the Pitts matriarch Stacie, up. Stacie, her 6-year old stepdaughter, and fiancée finally took heed when all three woke up to splitting headaches. Doctors said that if Miley had not woken them up sooner, Pitt and family would have coughed themselves "silly" (or "to death," if you feel like explaining mortality to your pre-K offspring). Border Collies are medium-sized and have longer, wavy, black-and-white hair, and all of them are good at nudging and steering people, sheep, and sheep-le, to where they need to be.
5 Brutis, Snake Wrangler
By now it is plain to see, some dogs make good pets, some dogs do not. Some people think snakes also make good pets, but everybody also knows some snakes are dangerous. Snakes are different from dogs in many ways: Dogs have fur coats and walk on four legs, snakes have scaly skin and slither around on their bellies. Snake teeth or fangs are different from canine canines. One bite from some snakes, like the 16'' red, black, and white/gold striped coral snake that ventured too close to Golden Retriever Brutis' 2- and 4-year old wards in 2004, is enough to send anybody to the emergency room (let alone a domesticated animal like Brutis who survived a bite from the snake he eventually stopped).
4 Moti The Security-Guard Dog
Moti is a German Shepherd who lives in Pennsylvania with his owners, the Patel family. Pennsylvania is a part of the United States where a group of people called Amish live. The Amish are Christians. Christians are people who (often forget that they) believe that if you treat people nice you will eventually end up in a fun place called Heaven, where nobody is ever sad and you can play and do whatever you want forever (unfortunately, the Amish also believe dogs like Moti cannot get into Heaven to play forever, despite their being more noble and "Christian" in their actions than many humans). Still alive and well, nine years later, Moti protected his family from a robber (i.e., a masked gunman holding up their liquor store who shot the dog before fleeing and before he could steal a thing).
3 Katrina The Dog Vs. Katrina The Hurricane
Human beings were not the only species to throw themselves into relief efforts in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes are a party for giant rain clouds; during a certain time of year when it is extra stormy, clouds get together and start spinning in a circle. This can be fun for the clouds but very scary for people. Hurricanes are natural disasters: Some people think natural disasters are caused by nature, others think they are made by an angry, old man who lives in the clouds and watches over all of us and makes things like hurricanes when we need a time-out (or a spanking if you are still centuries behind the times parenting-wise). Katrina is the name of a black Labrador dog who saved a drowning man when Katrina the hurricane flooded a magical city called New Orleans.
2 Napoleon Bull-amite
Dogs are usually praised for helping their human friends out of trouble but Napoleon the English Bulldog earned his hero points by saving a litter of abandoned baby cats. People usually assume dogs and cats do not like to play with each other, but sometimes they can be the best of friends. Napoleon is a Bulldog, which is a strong, muscular dog with a scrunched up and floppy face that is good at keeping people safe but bad at swimming. That did not stop this funny-faced pooch from leaping into a Michigan lake, not Lake Michigan, and swimming back to shore with a burlap sack filled with six, eventually healthy kittens.
1 Angel The Golden Retriever Lives Up To Her Name(s)
In a heart-wrenching example of life imitating art, specifically canine heroics that rival those relayed in the elementary school staple Where The Red Fern Grows, Golden Retriever, Angel, sprang into action when his 11-year old (in 2010) master, Canadian citizen Austin Forman, was suddenly attacked by a bobcat. Canada is a cold but friendly (and the northernmost) country in North America. A bobcat is a wildcat that, like wolves, cannot be kept safely as pets. Austin and his family were living in the north of the northernmost country in North America the day that a bobcat lunged at him. Angel intercepted the flying cat, and both boy and dog survived, though Angel sustained a serious claw swipe to the face.